Too often, caregivers are guilty of not taking adequate care of themselves.
In trying to cater for the needs of loved ones, it is easy to become a victim of anxiety, depression, stress and burnout yourself and if caution is not taken, one can even break down. This must never happen because if it does, who then will take care of your loved one?
Caring for Yourself
For your sake, as a caregiver, and for the sake of your loved one, you must give attention to self-care. Here are 7 recommendations as to how you can do just that:
1. Take a break
In between caring for your loved one, learn to take breaks even if it seems impossible. It will do you a lot of good. Sometimes, it may be as simple as ordering food instead of cooking yourself. At other times, it may require you to actually leave. In that case, if it is that you cannot leave your loved one alone, consider asking a friend or neighbour to step in for you briefly while you take the backseat. If that option is not available, sometimes use respite care- get a professional caregiver to stand in for you and take that break to refuel and re-energize.
Communicating your own needs in clear terms may be necessary so that you can have some personal time to yourself amid the hustle and bustle of running around trying to meet your loved ones’ needs. It is not inconsiderate if you need to rest and cannot be at their beck and call for that period. Need to rest? Talk about it. Need to see a doctor? Say something. Do not just slide it all under the carpet. It will do more harm than good.
It may seem like you’re on the clock every hour of every day trying to get a need met but even in that, find time to exercise. Physical activity is not the same as exercise so the fact that you are up and about should not automatically make you think you’ve exercised. Find time regularly to exercise. Exercise has been shown to reinvigorate, help combat stress and anxiety and generally improve mental and physical well being.
4. Eat well
A lot can go wrong when you do not eat well even for someone that is not undergoing stress. Ensure that you eat regularly and take quality meals. Don’t get so carried away with caregiving that you forget to eat. If you end up missing a meal, avoid binge eating to try and make up for it. Also, fast food may be exactly that – fast – but it is most often not healthy. Rather than go for fast food, go for healthy food. It’s definitely more beneficial in the long run.
5. Sleep well
Nothing resets the body system like a good night’s rest! Whatever you can do to ensure you sleep well at night, get it done. It will help.
6. Get yourself checked
What better way to know how you are doing than to do a health check-up? Book an appointment and get your body checked.
7. Write in a journal
It is often said that writing is therapeutic. Writing a life story definitely is and journaling your experiences may be a good way to channel out any stress and anxiety you may have built up.
The better your health is, the better you can take care of your loved one. After all, it takes a healthy person to nurture an unhealthy person. It is definitely a good idea to apply these recommendations in taking care of yourself for it is only when you have done that, that you will be in a prime position to care for your loved one.